Limited Wants Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics and the Environment / Edition 1

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<p>For roughly 99% of their existence on earth, Homo sapiens lived in small bands of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, finding everything they needed to survive and thrive in the biological richness that surrounded them. Most if not all of the problems that threaten our own technologically advanced society - from depletion of natural capital to the ever-present possibility of global annihilation-would be inconceivable to these traditional, immediate-return societies. In fact, hunter-gatherer societies appear to have solved problems of production, distribution, and social and environmental sustainability that our own culture seems incapable of addressing.<p>Limited Wants, Unlimited Means examines the hunter-gatherer society and lifestyle from a variety of perspectives. It provides a brief introduction to the rich anthropological and sociological literature on non-agricultural societies, bringing together in one volume seminal writings on the few remaining hunter-gatherer cultures including, the !Kung, the Hadza, and the Aborigines. It examines the economics of traditional societies, and concludes with a multifaceted investigation of how such societies function and what they can teach us in our own quest for environmental sustainability and social equality.<p>Limited Wants, Unlimited Means is an important work for students of cultural anthropology, economic anthropology, environmental studies, and sustainable development, as well as for professionals, researchers, and anyone interested in prehistoric societies, environmental sustainability, or social justice.
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Editorial Reviews

Anthropologists turn the favorite idiom of economists on its head and argue that the environmental destruction of modern society is not viable, inevitable or even particularly enviable. They produce evidence that hunter-gatherers needed little, wanted little, for the most part had all the means to satisfy their needs at their immediate disposal, and lived richer and more rewarding lives than we do. They put into a hunter-gatherer perspective contemporary problems such as social security, renewable resources, sexual equality, cultural diversity, and disparity of wealth. The 12 essays were originally published from the late 1960s to the 1990s. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559635554
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gowdy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

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Table of Contents

A Note from the Editor
Introduction: Back to the Future and Forward to the Past
1 Original Affluent Societies 1
1 The Original Affluent Society 5
2 What Hunters Do for a Living, or, How to Make Out on Scarce Resources 43
3 Sharing, Talking, and Giving: Relief of Social Tensions Among the !Kung 65
4 Egalitarian Societies 87
2 The Original Affluent Society: Assessment and Extensions 111
5 Beyond "The Original Affluent Society": A Culturalist Reformulation 115
6 Women's Status in Egalitarian Society: Implications for Social Evolution 139
7 Art, Science, or Politics? The Crisis in Hunter-Gatherer Studies 165
8 The Future of Hunter-Gatherer Research 201
3 Hunter-Gatherers and Visions of the Future 219
9 The Transformation of the Kalahari !Kung 223
10 So Varied in Detail - So Similar in Outline 237
11 Future Primitive 255
12 A Post-Historic Primitivism 281
Index 327
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